Interview with Dr. Mohammed Muttahar Vice Minister of Higher Education”We are hopeful that donors will also show an interest in contributing to the Ministry’s efforts at Gender Development and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education” [Archives:2004/797/Community]

December 9 2004

His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Muttahar is well known in the Yemeni academic community and has held prominent positions in the Higher Education Sector in Yemen (and overseas), almost from the time that higher education was launched in Yemen. In addition to teaching at Sana'a University, primarily in the area of education, soon after the establishment of Sana'a University of Sana'a (late 1960s), he was the Deputy General Manager of the University. With a PhD in Education from the United States, Dr. Muttahar has contributed considerably to the growth and development of the higher education sector. He also undertook consultancy work in education for such organizations as the UNDP and the Yemeni Government. Perhaps no one is more knowledgeable about the Dutch support to the Higher Education sector than Dr. Muttahar. YT Managing Director interviewed Dr. Muttahar in the Ministry Office of the Development of Higher Education Project.

Q: What areas are covered by the assistance of the Royal Government of the Netherlands to the Higher Education sector?
A: Let me start off by first by expressing how grateful and thankful we are for the generous contributions of the Dutch Government to the development of the Higher Education Sector. I also wish to state that the Dutch Embassy here in Sana'a has been very cooperative in helping the Yemeni Government tailor programs that will be in keeping with the development aspirations of Yemen and are demand oriented to provide the appropriate human resources needed to enhance the higher education sector and in the areas of institutional strengthening of the sector. We have at the moment two major programs: the first is the Netherlands Fellowship Programme and the Netherlands Programme for Institutional Strengthening of Post Secondary Education and Training Capacity, known as the NPT for short.

Q: What are major fields does the NPT Programme cover in Yemen?
A: We have worked with NUFFIC, the Dutch agency supervising the NPT Programme to determine and design the appropriate programs that are most suitable to Yemen's Higher Education development needs. We have together come up with 4 core NPT programmes: Information Communication Technology (ICT), Basic Studies, which starts with MBA and MPA post graduate studies, Basic Sciences Development and finally the Gender Development Programme. All these programmes are geared to foster the improvement of the quality of higher education. We have now eight projects in different specialized fields within these four major areas, some of which are already in the implementation stage, while others are still being designed.

Q: How is cooperation undertaken with the Dutch relevant institution?
A: In the eight projects (ICT, Problem based Learning, NPT Coordination Office, Gender Research Studies, Integrated Water Management Development, MBA, Basic Sciences Education and Executive Master of Public Administration) involve the participation of different academic or research oriented institution in Yemen working in cooperation with counterpart Dutch institutions. For example the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is working with Delft University in Holland on the ICT component of the NPT Programme and Aden University and the Women Research Center are working with the Institute of Social Studies at Wageningen University and with Delft University of Technology.

Q: Can you give us some overall idea about the ICT Project?
A: The Information Communications Technology is being carried out by Delft University of Technology, which helps the MHESR to develop overall ICT policies for higher education and in the design of the national ICT Network for Higher Education and in the completion of the ICT Network for 10 Yemeni higher education institutions.

Q: Are your NPT projects mainly dealing with public institutions?
A: While most of the programs are undertaken by public higher educational institutions, there are some that involve non-governmental research centers and organizations and private sector firms to determine their needs and bring candidates to the studies programmes, such as the MBA programme.

Q: How much money is involved in the NFP and NPT programmes?
A: The NFP Programme basically is ready to absorb as many fellowship students as can be found to be acceptable to the Dutch institutions that are participating in the Programme. In the past there were only three or four students from Yemen enrolled. We are now opting to increase the participation to up to 25 students now, by encouraging more students to apply and thus improving the potential number of candidates to be accepted. The NPT projects we discussed above total Euros 12,400,000.

Q: What about the Future Projects?
A: We have two more NPT projects in the drawing boards to be completed by the end of this year. One project assists the MHERS to further strengthening the Ministry's capacity of supervise the developments in the higher education sector and the other is an extension project for the ITC, with the first phase focusing on the development of an ICT Master Plan for all higher education institutions, to be followed by an implementation of such a Master Plan. We are hoping that other donors will be participating in this component of the Higher Education Development Project by chipping in the Euros 25 million implementation costs for the ICT Master Plan. In March, there will be a donors' conference on the ITC implementation phase sponsored by the MHESR. We are hopeful that donors will also show an interest in contributing to the Ministry's efforts at Gender Development and Quality Enhancement of Higher Education, which are considered essential elements in the overall development process in Yemen and in Yemen's efforts to fighting poverty, which are all common concerns of all the donor community for Yemen.